Saturday, July 7, 2012


As members of the advisory boards to the "World Forum of Fisher Peoples" (WFFP) and the International Redmanglar (RMI), we had the opportunity to participate in meetings with both associations and observe their agreement regarding "policy options on food independence," particularly in regard to small-scale fisheries (SSF).
A "Small-scale fishery" is the capture and removal of aquatic species in marine, coastal, wetland, inland and island waters, where the operations are performed manually without the use of mechanized systems for hauling or collecting gear and whose production is primarily intended for local consumption and improving the quality of family life.
Extractive activities that massively destroy the planet's ecosystems are practiced within a neoliberal political framework that globalizes natural resources and places them in the service of large multinationals who direct them towards high consumption societies.
The path toward neoliberalism went first through a policy of national "regulations and protectionism" that helped turn into "developed countries" those countries who practiced it in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. But now, we the "developing countries" are forced to accept the neoliberal model, which now condemns and prohibits such "regulations and protectionism," and allows transnational companies from the "developed countries" to loot the land and its resources and negatively affect food self-sufficiency by impoverishing the people and systematically destroying the environment. The Convention on Biodiversity, Desertification, Climate Change, Ramsar, Rio 1992, Rio 2002, 2012, and others demonstrate their futility when multinationals take over a territory and engage in extractive economic activities, food production for export such as shrimp farming, intensive agriculture, monocultures, dams, mining and other megaprojects. The globalizing neoliberal model affects the Earth and threatens the food self-sufficiency of all humanity.
Find a new political way of managing the planet's biodiversity based on ecosystem approaches, popular participation and food self-sufficiency. There are several proposals, including "Radical Ecological Democracy as an alternative to Globalizing Development" (Ashish Kathari ( It is also important to consider the proposal titled "Good Living in Harmony with Nature and Human Rights" by the "Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations" (CAOI), and other proposals that present alternatives to the current materialistic and inhumane neoliberalism.
The quality of life and activities of "small-scale fisheries" (SSF) in mangroves and in coastal and inland waters are key to achieving food self-sufficiency in fishing communities. Small-scale fisheries must be recognized, maintained and protected through policies and regulations so they can develop as key players in society.
The "FAO Voluntary Guidelines in Regards to the SSF" are being crafted in consultation with government officials, business leaders, fisherfolk and SSFs. Once approved should become mandatory.
Fisher-women are more marginalized than the fisher-men themselves. The great importance of their work is minimized or ignored in decision-making. They are fishers, food providers, and caretakers of their families and the natural resources.
Highlight and encourage the important role of women in the struggle for food independence and sustainability of aquatic resources.
The territories historically administered by the SSFs are now threatened by industrial fleets that have over-exploited marine resources in waters under their jurisdiction and in international waters. To achieve this, they use innovations such as "individual fishing quotas" that end up privatizing aquatic resources, usually with the support of international financial institutions, forcing countries in the South to sign onerous treaties. Even the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in Article 62 paragraph 24 states that in regards to the "use of living resources: the coastal State shall determine its capacity to harvest the living resources of the exclusive economic zone. BUT, when the coastal State lacks the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall grant access to the remaining allowable catch to other States through agreements or other arrangements." Thus, developing countries not only lose their food independence but also their national sovereignty.
Radically oppose any conventions, treaties or any other mechanism that promotes the loss of sovereignty and the rights to the food provided by the sea.
The FAO and some international agreements recommend the declaration of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to conserve marine biodiversity. These usually are areas where SSFs and artisanal fishing have already been able to conserve these resources for generations. While MPAs are important, the creation of these areas generally does not happen with the prior, informed and binding consent of fishing communities. When it occurs at all, the community consultation process on a new MPA is done hastily and only to fulfill a requirement prior to its formal declaration. Afterwards, the MPA is likely to be managed by an international NGO whose first activity is to prohibit fishing in the newly “protected” area.
The consent of local communities to the declaration of new MPAs, should be prior, informed and BINDING. Local communities, indigenous groups, artisanal fisherfolk and SSFs should also play a leading role in the management of those areas. Again, and to emphasize its importance, local communities must demand, in line with the Biodiversity Convention, their right to that "Prior, informed, and specially, BINDING consent."
Due to time constraints we will not address REED, CDM, Sustainable Development and other topics such as the Green Economy (which can transform the green of forests and seas into the green of dollars for a few!)

World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) / INTERNATIONAL REDMANGLAR

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